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You suck at picking colors! Tips on getting better colors into your games.

7 Jul


Some color’s truly do. I know we all hear about complimentary colors but who here practices it?

I actually have gotten pretty good at it.  But only because I know a few things first…I know enough to use this site.

Color Scheme Picker

When creating a level I usually come here and figure out what colors compliment each other and what colors will fit best together.  So often a game developer just picks a blue and a red but doesn’t think about if those 2 colors really truly go together.  You might not think about it. The viewer might not think about it. But everyone knows it on a deep level if two colors really fit together. It can make a HUGE difference in how your art and game feel. TF2 is a great example of a game which took it’s color picking very seriously. Here a link to a great read about their art process on Team Fortress 2

Illustrative Rendering

Team Fortress 2 Color Palette


The other thing that goes into what colors I choose is psychology.   Knowing the psychology behind colors is a must for any game designer/artist.  You know the basics of video game color choosing.

Red = Bad. It will hurt or kill me.

Green = Good. Usually good.

That is it at isn’t fundamental level.  But their is so much more.  Did you know Black symbolizes authority?  Or that brown makes most people feel sad?  I am not going to get into all of the definitions here but having a good understanding of what colors do on psychological level is a must for a game designer.

Check out these links for more.

Colors and their meanings

Alot of the stuff is subjective and doesn’t always apply. But when designing a level think about how you are trying to make the player feel.  Choose colors that help envoke that.  It can add ALOT to gameplay and help communicate your ideas quicker.


Your game sucks! Make people play it!

7 Jul


All games suck and then one day magically they get good (for some). The best way to ensure games get better is a TON of play testing. Let’s talk about first what you should expect when giving your game to someone else to play.

People naturally don’t care about you or your game. They can not see all the hard work that you put in to it. They can not see all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into a moment of game play.  Don’t try to get them to understand, it ruins the game for people.

Players will compare it to Call of Duty or God of War.  Those games had hundreds of people working on them. They are games that don’t have anything to do with your game. And yes, even though you did it all by yourself, THEY DO NOT CARE (unless you have a good game.) If you have a good game, you did your job and made players care for one minute.

If your game sucks, don’t fear it. Revel in it. At least you did a game that sucks, most don’t even get that far. They just come up with an idea and never even attempt to complete it. Should you cry about your game sucking and trash it? NO!!!! Use it as a learning experience and make the game better. Knowing what sucks is the first step in fixing it.

Players not caring is AWESOME. Them hating a feature is AWESOME.  It let’s you know what you are doing wrong. I am sure there were points in the play test where the game play lagged or something just felt like it was taking too long. HOLD on to that observation. Note it, and fix it later. Then show someone else the game and see how it feels. See if you fixed the problem. I am also sure there were points they smiled. Amp those moments up. Look for them. Those moments are small, and happen quickly, but those are what you are looking for. That little giggle. That little smile. That whispered “oh man, that is cool.”


DO NOT manufacture the response moments. Don’t tell the players too much about the game. Let them just play the game. Get reality from them. Remember, these games will go out into the world without you. They will not have you explaining how to play them.  The player won’t have you to watch over and defend each bug. Try to let the person play and get out of their way. Watch and see.

I often play test student games and the students will not shut up about how to play, or what the meaning of this is, or what they are “going” to do with the game. Stop it. That ruins all the valuable data you are about to collect and skews the results of your observations.


People will lie to you, especially your friends. Tell you something is cool, even though it isn’t. They don’t want confrontation and they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Try to put them at ease to tell you the truth. Tell them a few disclaimers like “be honest,” “you can tell me anything, good or bad,”or ” I really want to make the game better. What didn’t you like?”  You will need to plead with them. Any honesty you get should be cherished. Bad feedback is usually harder to get, and usually the most productive feedback to get as well.

Try to get people you don’t know, and people that don’t care about your own opinion of them, to play the game. These types of people are hard to find, but are the BEST and most honest for feedback.


At the end of the play test, I ask for a summary. I always ask people to describe the game back to me.  “If you were going to tell your friend about this game, what would you say?” This is a common question I use. Whatever the player says is right. Listen to it, if it isn’t the message you want them to say, then you need to design the game differently.


Show your game to as many people as you can.  I carry my IPad and try to let three people a day play it.  This dynamic is the great thing about making mobile games. You can have mobile play testing. Learn from the players. I watch their faces and hands. I listen to what they respond to. I am student of what the players respond to. Anything they respond to, and like, I put ten times more of it in the game. I craft my game through countless play tests.

Just showing your game once and hoping for fireworks is a bad idea. Listen to the person playing, and quiz them on why they don’t give a shit. Tell them to stop being fake and tell you what they really think. What they don’t understand, what they don’t like, or what they do like.

Remember to not take it too seriously. Anyone that tells you that you have the best game on earth is wrong, and anyone that says it is the worst is wrong too.  But, EVERYONE is right. I know it is a hard balance to strike, but the more you do it, the better you will get.